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The Communicators

News/Business. (2012) A preview of the potential technology agenda under either an Obama or Romney Presidential administration. New.

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TOPIC FREQUENCY

Romney 4, Obama Administration 4, China 3, Us 3, John Kneuer 2, U.s. 2, Solyndra 1, Washington 1, Joshed Smith 1, Darpa 1, Philadelphia 1, Josh Smith 1, Obama 1, Mr. Smith 1, Nanotechnology 1, Collaborative Lee 1,
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  CSPAN    The Communicators    News/Business.  (2012) A preview of the potential  
   technology agenda under either an Obama or Romney Presidential...  

    October 13, 2012
    6:30 - 7:00pm EDT  

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the federal government can work cooperatively with the private sector in improving u.s. economic competitiveness in whatever ranger is. the administration has done a number of private-partnerships -- private-public partnerships. as a broad philosophical focus for what he thinks on that as a progressive agenda to help boost our economic competitiveness around the globe -- on telecom communications in particular, i am far less than -- of an expert then he is. in general, i would say the administration is much more in the regulatory, how to deal with various constituencies, of various different businesses trying to balance the different issues, the different kinds of industries, at.
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these administration looks on -- and i may be speaking to broadly here -- i think the administration looks more on the far reaching investments in science and innovation as their policy agenda, compared to trying to work out where telecommunications firms can invest, because they can do that pretty well on the rhone. they are quick to adapt. there are regulatory issues that define that there. >> the same question with regard to governor romney. >> speaking for the campaign, i am an enthusiastic supporter and observer of the campaign. i think that ed makes a good point. i think there is broad consensus that telecommunications and communications contribute to our national activity and standard
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of living. the real collision between the two philosophy is is what is the role of government with respect to these industries and whether or not one can take advantage of innovation, investment, consumer demand, a competing business models to drive these industries and whether or not it should get more heavy attention from the government. i think the that comes from -- i think that comes from a real difference in viewpoints about the state of competition in this industry. i think there is a viewpoint and a perspective that there is not competition among various market participants in the industry, that cable is a vertical and lanolin is a vertical, and wireless is a vertical.
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and they are fiercely competing with one another. and in that competitive environment, the role of the government should be to protect that competition throughout robust enforcement of anti- competition statutes, but not to manage that competition from a regulatory perspective. >> and also joining us, joshed smith, from "the national journal." he recently wrote a long piece comparing the technology agendas of the two candidates. thank you for joining us, mr. smith. >> in the tech community, there are many verticals. they are all competing with each other. what are these companies looking for in the agendas of both candidates right now as far as
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clues for what might, head? obviously telecom issues are not something that often pop up on the campaign trail. where are the companies looking for clues as to what the agendas will be? >> i think ideally what they should be looking for is a common understanding of the rules of the road and the ability to enter the marketplace and compete with one another. i think part of the problem, and it is a real problem, when the regulators try to manage competition, one of the incentives is to become rent seekers and try to manage the regulatory environment rather than looking to consumer demand business models and engaging that way. i think what they are looking for is this certainty in what the rules of the road are, to the maximum extent possible, and rules that do not interfere with their efforts to me that
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consumer demand. >> ed, what do you see as where companies should be looking for clues to what a second obama administration would entail? >> i agree completely and i think the danger is seeking capabilities that regulations generally green, and ways companies can interfere or influence congress. antitrust is one of the great ways you can deal with that. the trouble, of course, is the antitrust law can hardly keep up with what is going on in the marketplace. it is really difficult. i really do think in the next administration congress is the one that is going to be driving some of these things. conversely, on the science and innovation side, i think a big difference is that there is a
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real commitment to public- private partnerships by the obama administration, looking at ways to can have collaborative process with increasingly fierce competitors abroad. those experiments are pretty well full blown through different initiatives, emphasizing the regional capabilities of the u.s. economy. different parts of the country, different industries, places where we are really strong, places where we need to be stronger. it really is trying to find that bridge between basic research and development and the financing to get things commercialize. it is experimenting, trying to find those ways. is really different from what the romney campaign -- the romney campaign has not really
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talked about this at all. is really private sector- private-sector. >> when you hear public-private partnership, what is your first thought? >> again, i think it goes into defining the role of government. their government -- the government has had a long and successful history with research and development funding. particularly basic research were there is not an economic or business incentive engaged in research. the government can go a long way through collaboration with universities. i think the trouble is where you define that and what is the government's's role in the partnership? -- what is the government's role in the partnership? very often companies come in and look at money they can contribute to get to their
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bottom-line. i think the other problem is, when the government views itself as a partner and as driving economic decisions for favorite political entities. i am not going to go into a long rehash of some of those experiences are around investment in renewable energy or some of the less than successful endeavors you what had their. it is when government views its role in the partnership as equal partners steering the ultimate outcome. i think you run a a danger. is not just the government picking winners and losers -- it is not just the government picking winners and losers. it is the market-driven outcome, the consumer-driven out come through this messy competition of the marketplace seeking out what could be a preferred
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parochial outcome. again, i think there is broad consensus the government has the role in helping to sponsor the search. partnerships with universities are areas where that sponsorship is successful. i think the government steps out as almost a commercial partner. you can do real harm to emerging technologies. >> when you think about what the administration has done, they are offering competitive grants to regions around the country, competing for -- the first one, the experimental one was on energy efficiency technologies. 12 different consortium a. all these various groups came together.
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philadelphia 1. and they won with a variety of different folks. they got $125 million for energy efficiency technologies. that includes commercialization and work-force training. you have to give people to pick this up, put it under rubes, things like that. that was not picking a winner. we have got our reliance on foreign oil if nothing else. a number of those have gone elsewhere. the access challenge, which was another program, six different entities coming together, looking for ways to boost regionalization. st. louis won the biotech sector. they won it because that is where the cattle arrived. they have real expertise in
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animal testing, and all kinds of genetic stuff. and so, we are looking at here is the next way for us to compete in the regional economy, not picking winners. everybody comes together. all in one place. it is an innovative approach. the idea that the industrial policy of free market misses the point, in my opinion, of what every other country is competing with and doing. we are not picking winners. we are picking sectors. there is a big difference. >> do you think one of governor romney's criticisms of the obama administration investment in r&d is not so much what is spent but is it spent in of a smart way -- do you see something changing in the second
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obama administration? is there a next wave of innovation in obama's playbook? >> two things. i think they have learned a number of lessons from this. i will mention cylinder. it was a mistake. it was a problem -- i will mention solyndra. we got caught up in market forces in china. now that is unraveling backwards again. any program that is up and running like that for the first time, there are going to be problems. the second thing, what the administration is looking for is next generation stuff. personalize madison. advanced polymer's. nanotechnology at the cutting edge. this is one of these areas where
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they get that early help for commercialization. $250 billion a year. no time to commercialize it. there is this huge gap between the private sector and what they will do and what the government will do. there is no one bridging the gap. it has got to be done. it has got to be done collaborative lee. so, i think they will learn more. >> there is an issue that has been talked about here in washington, cyber security. that there should be clear divide between democrats and republicans on cyber security. basically, what do you think going forward is the best strategy when it comes to cyber security? >> again, this is one where i do not pretend to expertise, but i do know the administration is looking for ways to protect american companies and the
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american economy and american infrastructure from cyber attacks. that is a critical national security issue. i understand the position of industry, different industries, worried about what is going to happen. but we have to fess up to the to protecte need ourselves. we really do. i think that will be a major point in the next congress. is really only getting worse. there is a number of international things that also have to be worked out. and i think that will come to a head in the next a administration as well. >> obviously, cyber security is a critical issue for government networks, private networks, commercial networks and there is clearly an important place for
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industry to collaborate, particularly with the sharing of information. what attacks are each being subject to, what the remedies might be. i think the split and the danger might be -- one supports the premise that the government should take a leadership role and the regulatory role. i cannot think of anywhere else in the economy where the technology changes more quickly than in the internet space. the reason is so critically important to share information amongst commercial entities, between government entities, and the government is the type of a tax change almost daily. we can share that information and better prepare to collectively protect ourselves.
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it is very important. but if the government starts setting standards, and starts setting regulatory dictates on what those protections should become it becomes an issue of regulatory compliance rather than defense. to the extent that you are drawing away resources to think about what is the latest iteration of the federal regulations on my network security rather than what i have been subject to and how we are going to deal with it -- i think that is dealing with it in a really misguided way. again, this is an area where i think there is broad consensus on the problem. people understand what the problem is. the question is, what is the role of the government to deal with it? the commercial market participants have enormous incentives, economic and reputation will and otherwise, to do everything they can to protect their network.
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the added addition of a regulation does not make them more incentive to protect -- make them more incentivized to protect their network. >> our guests are john kneuer and ed paisley from the center for american progress's action fund, and josh smith is our guest reporter from "the national journal." >> governor romney has not set out a specific proposal about cyber security, just general proposals. he has called for greater involvement of the intelligence and defense communities and officials in those intelligence and defense communities are some of the more vocal voices calling for the republicans in congress
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and chambers of commerce -- do you see a president romney taking the side of business, i guess, against the defense department and the national security agency? >> i am not sure there's that kind of opposition between the entities that you laid out. i think that looking to the military, defense department, and intelligence community, i think it is simply an acknowledgement that that is where the real expertise is in the government. they have the human capital resources. and they can look to this in a much more pro-active way for a much longer time. the issue of cyber security has been one that has been very bright redefined between classified and unclassified networks.
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we protect our unclassified networks almost as a purposeful stratagem. shutting the door and locking it to your adversary tells your adversary something about what you know and how you defend your networks. so, the intelligence communities, the defense community, and the primary owners and operators are classified and have spent a lot more time dealing with this threat. it is only recently we have known of the necessity to close off on classified networks. it just becomes too much of a problem. i think relying on defense intelligence primarily surrounds that is where the expertise is at. as far as your statement about some of those folks who were not supportive of regulation, i
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don't know that that is a unified position. >> even though we're talking about the presidential campaign , there is obviously going to be a new congress coming up. how would you characterize congress over the past couple of years when it comes to technology and communication policy, and how would you personally like to see them move forward? >> i will start again -- i am deeply worried about the budget cuts proposed by the house, for all kinds of different agencies. is just the wrong way to go. we need to continue to invest, as the administration did in the first two years, to invest in
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many of these important cutting edge industries. we just have to do that. trying to cut them so we can increase defense spending -- well, this does that make a lot of sense to me. there's a huge philosophical difference, obviously. the other thing that is important, one of the investments we need to make is in the smart grid. our infrastructure is very, very vulnerable to cyber attacks. that takes resources we need from dar but, the defense department, -- from darpa, the defense department, other areas, that we need, and there are other solutions you can do with that. and congress has just not moved
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on the. i truly worry about the next administration, really no matter who wins. that is just a really difficult issue. it does concern me that the republicans are so focused on anything involving the government must be bad. is just not true. we need to think about ways the public and private sector can collaborate better. >> john kneuer? >> i think there is a tendency discussing any issue to draw the conclusion that nothing will happen anyway. i think there clearly is a role for research, basic research investments. the question is making sure those dollars, when they are being spent, are really being put toward cost-effective use and not pet projects or other
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things. you mentioned solyndra, and now that the chinese government subsidies have pumped up their solar industry, it is almost perverse we're barring money from china to find clean energy -- borrowing money from china to fund clean energy programs. it is driven by a centralized view of what might be good rather than consumer demand and business models and market dynamics that reveal what people really want and what the efficacy is. i think i agree with you. there is room for innovation in our power grid. our communications networks. but again, the best place to figure out and understand where those investments are needed and where they should go is from the operators, is from -- is not
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necessarily from here. >> the centerpiece in the telecom world has been the government plan to develop broadband networks. there was even a large section hating the obama administration for spending $7.2 billion and in the republicans' view of not having much to show for it. what is your depending on -- what is your opinion on that spending and have you think it will change over the next couple of years? " i think it needs to be put in context. $7.2 billion over three or four years. the rest was loan guarantees to the utility's service -- that is in comparison 0 $100 billion a year in cap ex every year by the
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private industries that have built these networks and continue to provide operating power. we have a long history. rural electrification, the recognition that our network can benefit everyone on the network, whether it is the power grid, a communications network. the challenge is designing a tax and subsidy regime that is not out of date and full of weights. one of the things that has come up repeatedly as you should reform the universal service fund. i do not think anyone was philosophically opposed to that. the complaint was, you cannot just make the existing fund, which is not performing well,
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bigger. you need to reform so the minimum amount of money is collected and it goes to fill in gaps that are there. i think the primary flaw of the recent broadband exercise is that there were multiple components in the statute. $7 billion in funding. $300 million of that to actually measure where the gaps were. the measuring was done after the $7.2 billion was spent. that is not likely to produce a successful distribution of those monies where they are really needed if you actually do not know. >> you have been itching to route this telecom discussion. [laughter] do you see the investment in communications networks as one area where the obama
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administration has done well? or do you think there is more to do? >> the broadband debate -- one idea that came up with debt that was new, and again i will just throw this out there -- the idea did once, billed twice? we have a lot of infrastructure. we have a lot of things that need to be rebuilt. you have to invest in the. is a good investment. you can get that money, and there is tons of money out there. follow that line. i think that is a worthy way to go about investing in two things at once, three things at once, trying to collaborate. >> you think the education structure problems -- president obama's famous line about "you did not bill that." -- "you did not build that."
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do you think that future communication will fall under his philosophy for building for private innovation? >> when you talk about innovation, clearly the government has a role to play in these arenas to ensure fair play and competitiveness. if you look at the manner in which the railroads were built up. government investment was important. it would not have happened otherwise. it also would not have happened without the private sector. it is not an either/or situation. it is finding that balance of where the government helps and when the government needs to step back and make sure everything is regulated well, of
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fair play, going forward. >> gentleman, we are out of time. these issues about security and privacy -- do they move the political needle? >> i think people will -- i think the chance of people making their choice on november 6 because of obscure technology issues is increasingly small. for the obama administration or the romney campaign -- is not really a campaign issue. but i do think he will see is a very important government issue. and i think both sides are prepared to devote significant energy and effort to it should be there administration. >> i will take a different tack on that. i think the american people understand investment in innovation is hugemp